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Required Categories Contact Form

Microsoft Outlook allows users to build a personal list of frequently used categories (the Master Category List), but does not provide for a master group list. 

The Required Categories Contact Form is a solution to make it easier for Outlook 98 or Outlook 2000 users to consistently categorize contacts in either Exchange Server Public Folders or, for those without Exchange Server, Net Folders. It requires the user to choose from a list of categories distributed as part of the form. Until the user picks one of the required categories, the Contact item cannot be saved. 

[FrontPage Scheduled Image Component]This form requires Outlook 98 or later. The ideas in it were developed in conjunction with my book, Microsoft Outlook Programming Jumpstart for Administrators, Developers, and Power Users. The current version, 2.0, 25 Jul 2004, has been updated for compatibility with regions where a comma is not the system list delimiter

Setup | Usage | Notes | Limitations | More Information


  1. Download the reqcat.zip file (12kb), then unzip it and double-click ReqCat.oft to open the form Outlook. If you get a disable/enable macros prompt, choose Disable Macros.
  2. Choose Tools | Forms | Design This Form to go into design mode.
  3. On the Categories page, right-click the large box, and on its Properties dialog, switch to the Value tab.  
  4. Under Possible values, list your required categories, separated by semicolons. The form comes with these required categories: "Client; Former Client; Prospect; Vendor." Write down the categories you use, because you will also need to add them to the code behind the form.  
  5. Click OK to close the Properties dialog. 
  6. Choose Form | View Code to display the code window. 
  7. Under the Function Item_Open() event handler, under USER OPTIONS, edit this code statement to substitute the same list of categories from Step 3 above:

    gstrRequiredCats = "Client; Former Client; Prospect; Vendor"

  8. If you have are using Outlook in a language other than U.S. English, in Item_Open under USER OPTIONS, set the gstrDelimiter value to the normal list delimiter for your region. The form will try to get the actual delimiter from the user's Windows registry, but this property provides a default in case that doesn't work.
  9. Publish the form. If you make any later changes to the form, go to the form's (Properties) tab in design mode and increment the version number. That will ensure that users get the latest version of the form. 
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To use the Required Category Contact form, choose Tools | Forms | Choose Form. (If you make this form the default in a Contacts folder, you can just click the New button.) When the form opens, fill in the form as usual. If you try to save the item without first picking one of the required categories, the form automatically shows you the required category list and will not let you save the item until you choose at least one of those categories. 

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This techniques in this form can be extended to other types of items, simply by copying the controls from Categories page on this form to a custom Categories page on a different form. You must also copy the code, of course, but it shouldn't require any changes. 

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This form has been tested with the U.S. English versions of Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000 in Corporate/Workgroup mode and in Outlook 2003. For other language versions, you may need to change the field that the listbox on the Categories page is bound to. This is done on the Value tab of the control's Properties page. 

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